Selecting the Right People for Your Planning Team

by: Jim Del Carmen

Your company is ready for some strategic planning.

You’re committed to inclusion. You want your employees to have a stake in the action. You want them to feel like they’re making a difference.

So you load your strategic planning committee with people representing every job function in your business. Include them all! The more the merrier!

Big mistake.

In fact, this may be the greatest, most common progress-killing mistake we see companies make when they launch strategic planning processes.

When you overload the planning table, you guarantee inefficiency.

Why? Because you spend more time bringing everyone up to speed. You burn precious time and energy trying to get a common baseline of understanding. Then, there’s no time left to do the real planning.

Employees who were already up to speed get bored and disengaged. Employees who weren’t up to speed get stuck worrying that they don’t get it or they were left out in the beginning. Either way it’s de-motivating.

How many people should be at the table for strategic planning?

When we  guide businesses through the planning process, we tell them, “Include as few people as necessary  to give you the most lift in setting your strategic direction”

That may seem counterintuitive to business leaders committed to inclusion, but it’s the best approach. You can find ways to include others throughout the planning process, giving them the opportunity to provide input and feedback without being a formal member of the Planning Team.

 How do you choose whom to include?

First, you need proper coverage across key areas of the organization. You can’t just have your sales team in there without operations. You can’t have just your operations team there without HR. The point is, you want representation from the pieces that ultimately make up the success of the organization.

That doesn’t mean you have to include all job-functions at the table.

Second, try to bring together a diverse team with different perspectives. For example, you want to avoid filling the table with only “long-timers” who are set in their ways. Also consider people with fewer years’ experience that may have a fresh perspective and be more open to change. Constructive tension to avoid group-think and challenge the status quo is critical to planning. It’s through that tension that you ultimately produce the best plan.

Third, you want to include some of the key influencers that will eventually help drive the change in the organization.  Their understanding and buy in of the plan will go a long way in helping drive implementation.

In short, you want the right mix to bring out the best in the team.  Who you choose to be on the Planning Team is a key early step that will help shape your plan.

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